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Gen Manga - new English manga magazine launches in US

Date: 2011 June 24 21:44

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A new magazine, Gen Manga, for seinen and doujinshi works, launches with free first online issue with a monthly schedule to follow.

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Gen Manga Volume 1 Cover

Looking over my twitter feed, I found a link from Anime News Network. It stated that a new New York based company had started a online/physical publication called Gen Manga. The purpose of this magazine would be to showcase seinen and doujinshi works. These are not what we would call top titles. Rather, that they are the stories that fall through the cracks and are forgotten. Mature works as well as self published works are covered in the magazine. The publication costs $9.99 for each physical copy, per issue but you can download the first issue as a free download from the Gen Manga website for a limited time. It is also available simultaneously in Japanese as well as English. Online subscribers will be charged $1.99 every month for each online issue.

So what's the magazine like? In a word: promising. I don't want to get peoples interest too piqued. These stories will never win awards as the most popular manga. But then, I don't think they were intended to be that. They have heart, where the author is doing it purely for the act of storytelling. These are not raw Gekiga and neither are they fluff. They sit somewhere in between for people who still like manga but who want to discover what other kinds of stories are out there. At present there is the #1 free issue and if you subscribe the next issue is available for subscribers right now, separately, both in Japanese or English. Here's my brief overview of the titles in the first issue:

First up, Wolf by Shige Nakamura. This is the story, for the most part, of Naota, a young man travelling to Tokyo to kill a man. On the train ride there, he meets Shota. Shota is going to Tokyo to train to be a sumo wrestler. While initially feigning ignorance at Shota, Naota warms to him after the Sumo-to-be is picked on by some good for nothings on the train. Naota comes to his aid, and in return Shota's trainer offers to stand as his guarantor while he's in Tokyo. I'm not going any further but things pick up before the end of the chapter.

Next, VS Aliens by Yu Suzuki. Aya Segawa runs into the next class at school and tells Kitaro Iguchi, a boy she's never spoken to before, that there's an alien in the school! Naturally, Kitaro doesn't really believe her but nevertheless goes to speak with the alien Aya identified, Sana Sakuma. But even if Kitaro doesn't believe that the prettiest girl in school could be an alien, there could be a twist here....

Gunya Mihara's Kamen (Japanese for Mask) is a weird one. A person awakes in a field in feudal Japan to find a sentient mask on his/her face. The mask informs the person if the mask is removed the person will die but seems to be helpful as if they are both stuck in the same predicament. At the same time, a feudal warrior and his squad are transporting some peasant prisoners along a dirt road and then they encounter the person with the mask.

Rounding off the first issue is Souls by Arisa Karino. It is a good ghost story but for some readers, being dropped right into the narrative without back story or context might be confusing. Having said that, the chapter on display here is very well done.

(Just a little note here, these are ongoing titles so any missing parts in the first chapters presented in this first volume, might be addressed in volume 2. Just so you know.)

I cannot find any information on the authors online so finding out if these represent their first works or something down the line is a bit tricky. I hope the Gen Magazine will start an authors spotlight or something similar so we can keep an eye on these authors. In my mind if you are NOT reading certain manga because it doesn't look polished or "like Bleach" then you are reading, in my opinion, manga for aesthetic purposes. This only does yourself and the authors a disservice. Gen Manga is the antidote to this. I like the spirit the magazine's publishers have taken up as their calling. It's like they decided to be the indie version of SigIKKI but without the massive publishing house behind them. If they get enough like minded people subscribed we could have a new favourite, "underground" vibe going here. While I must stress that these stories range from all-ages friendly to some with more "colourful" metaphors, for those who can read this, please do. Another thing I must stress as well is that when Gen Manga state they are going to publish doujinshi, they are not talking about doujin based on existing copyrighted works, rather they mean more like self published works. In an interview, the editor in chief stated they were going to rely on feedback from the readers as to what titles they should go after. So, if you want something that's off the beaten path, here's a golden opportunity! The publishers have stated they are working on an all platforms version of the online magazine. For those of you who want to, there's still the physical copies to be read and most smart phones can understand the Adobe PDF version. Hey, we're starting to get what we want: manga that can be read anywhere, any time at our own pace.

Happy days.

Source: Gen Manga
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